The Web Hostess: Online manners, best new sites and must-see videos

Mar 10, 2010

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners, and the next great meme.


 Today in the world of the Internet...

1) Please go watch the most bizarre mammogram awareness campaign I have ever seen, then come back and tell me the following things. Is this better/worse/different than the Facebook bra color campaign of a few months back? Does this inspire you to perform mammograms? Was boob honking a pastime that I'd just missed out on? Why does this exist?

2) Betty White is going to be hosting SNL (!!!) in part due to mass Facebook demand for her presence. Why is Betty White so awesome? Which was better, her Snickers commercial, or the resurgence of love she's gotten since it? Who is the best Golden Girl? Discuss.

3) Paul has found something even more narcisistic than Facebook and Twitter:

We apologize in advance.

Monica, I've noticed lately that I rarely get any replies to my Facebook status updates. I wonder sometimes if I'm just not showing up on my friends' feeds (I know some of my friends don't show up and I have to go to their pages to see what they've been up to). But it does feel sort of like being the unpopular kid when you don't even get one "like."

Anyone else notice this lately? Or do I just suck? Sigh.

It's not you. It's Facebook. I've noticed a general decline in comments on everyone's walls -- instead of 11 or 12, people are getting three or four. People are maxed out on friends and can't lavish the attention on other people that they used to. Plus, Facebook isn't as much of a novelty anymore, so no one is spending hours a day on it.

The default "Top Feed" format doesn't help anyone either. Because it rewards the posts that already have the most responses, it's harder for other posts to break through.

That, and maybe you're a band geek?

Someone pointed out that they could track flu outbreaks by aggregating Google search data - any idea if that, or other medical info is available in one organized, neat place?

Plenty of sites will give me symptoms, treatments, etc., but I'd like to see something that shows where outbreaks are occurring.

I'm not sure this site ever reached the critical mass it would have needed to be really successful, but have you checked out Individuals log in their symptoms and their street address, then virtually commiserate about their sniffles.

What are the best free applications for social media dashboards--specifically where you can set-up facebook business page (not personal profile), twitter, youtube, linkedin?

Something like Tweetdeck? Seesmic? Is that what you're looking for? Other suggestions, chatters?

I realized I was falling into a "mommy bragging" habit on Facebook after quitting my job at the public library to be a SAHM. So I'm trying a new tactic: every time I begin a new book, I post "is reading 'X' by Y. Z. Author" with a link to the library catalog page for that book. (The library catalog gives reviews and a summary of the plot. It provides Facebook with a thumbnail of the cover, too.)

I realize this is hopelessly dorky, but at least it's probably marginally more interesting to my friends than "Oooh, baby rolled over twice this morning!" At least it might alert them to a book they would like...

I actually really like this idea. Good job! Not that I'm not interested in the rolling habits of your baby and all, but I like to be reminded that you're a person, not just a person's mom.

Any idea how those wound up the 'sample topics' for the new discussion format? I'm getting great joy imagining a bipartisan effort to eliminate bridezillas by having them drop-kicked by the Redskins, personally.

I made them up.

And clearly everyone knows that any Bridezilla worth her salt could take on five or six Redskins in her strappy sandals, seven or eight in her bedazzled flip-flops.

I love social networking, but I REALLY don't see the point to this, unless you're a celebrity or someone newsworthy. It seems like the ultimate timewaster to go around asking questions of people who you do not know from Adam.

I disagree, actually. I think lots of people are interested in knowing whether they're normal and how they stack up. Just look at some of the fill-ins that happen on Google auto-complete. I can see people using Formspring as a sort of mental weirdness check-up. Or out of boredom. Never underestimate boredom.

Don't post mundane things about your kids, or health ailments, or politics, or religious thoughts. I will never, ever, comment or "like" one of those. Unusual, funny, interesting and unique things get my thumbs up.

Can you offer a good status update -- sans name, natch -- that you've felt compelled to comment on recently?

I just wanted to share this funny/appropriate Onion article I read yesterday with the class.


Do you feel that has demeaned itself by allowing comments? I do. It's not something a resepectable paper should do. The comments are full of idiots spewing venom against liberals/conservatives, gays, minorities, etc. I don't know, it just gives the site a Gawker-ish feel, and that is not a compliment! If the Post is going to allow comments, they should at least have some lowly intern whose job it is to go through comments all day deleting the trolls.

I think a respectable paper is transparant, and invites readers to participate in discussion or commentary on issues.

That being said, as a reporter, I often hate the comments. Journalists have pretty thick skin and we can take the personal criticism, but I hate seeing people who have opened their lives up to me--and been brave enough to go on the record--dragged through the mud with personal attacks based on prejudice or tangential agendas.

Le sigh.

hi, I used to love the regretsy web site. The woman was pretty funny/snarky - making insults about weird crafts.

Then they started creating products for charity. I found one product that they created in very poor taste and I used the word "lame." She said that it was all in fun and to "shut up."

When I responded again - her response was more harsh and "I also told you to shut up" and that see what happens if I tried to respond again. Before I read that I was ready to write let's bygones be bygones - but she set up a challenge.

I just said that the product was in poor taste. She proceeded to block my account. On another thread, I simply said you can delete my account but I can just create another one but I said not to bother blocking this account because I was outta there anyway.

But she still removed all the posts. The point I guess is that if you're putting others down all day - every day - and all your fans tell you how wonderful/witty you are - one can feel that they have the right to say anything but since it's all in fun.... I guess if she wants to play dictator with her site.... Anyway, a lot of people "love" the crap that is being put out which encourages people to be more ridiculous/outrageous/bizarre. I guess 'class' is fading from society...

Full disclosure -- I think regretsy is hilarious, though I'm not a frequent visitor and haven't been over in months.

That being said, and based on your limited perspective, it sounds like you got in a flaming war with a stranger online, which can never, never end well. She was too touchy, you responded by taunting (Why bother to tell her you could create a new account instead of just creating one?), and tone and serious-level are both really hard to read online.

I haven't seen your comments; I don't know how I would have read them, and in the spirit of the Internet, maybe they should have stayed up. But it's her blog, not a public news source, and ultimately she got to decide the rules.

Sorry, Bub.

"Don't post mundane things about your kids, or health ailments, or politics, or religious thoughts. I will never, ever, comment or 'like' one of those."

In my opinion, you have a closed mind. I recently posted about how I watched Food Inc. and how I'm changing my diet to move away from CAFO-produced meats. Sort-of political.

A neighbor commented about it and got some "education" (not from me but from others).

Following Facebook statuses can be enlightening and educational. Exposes you to things you might never think about.

It's all going to depend on what your friend circle looks like, isn't it? For some, "CAFO-produced meats" are going to light up the discussion boards. For others they're going to get, "Whaaaa?"

here's one I had up recently: "HAHAHAHAH Alec Baldwin just called Sarah Jessica Parker a clothes-HORSE...GET IT?" that got about 10 or so comments because everyone agreed.

Usually, if you're posting commentary on entertainment, sports, or life, you'll get feedback. If it's about your kids or material things you buy, not as much.

I do notice, however for the parents who give updates about their kids, it's usually other parents who comment. Singles like myself stay out if it.

I think this is about right -- cultural observations get more feedback than private, and universal observations get more than personal.

The grand trick is make your specifics come across as universal. A friend of mine just wrote: "Third day in a row of working out. How long before it's a habit, again?" Which caused people to want to respond more than if he'd just said, "I did 50 reps at the gym."

*I don't know what 50 reps means. I've just heard people say stuff like that.

I liked this recent one: "Both the president and I had our cholesterol checked today: his LDL was 138, mine is 90. WHAT! WHAT!"

Funny, relevant to current events, and spelled correctly, with no short hand.


If you saw her performance at the Comedy Central roast (I think it was for Shatner), you'd understand why she should be on SNL. Unlike the people on SNL, she is hilarious. Favorite Golden Girl: Sophia.

Sophia! She never gets any love.

" For some, "CAFO-produced meats" are going to light up the discussion boards. "

And you say that like it's a bad thing. Light up the discussion. Get people talking and thinking.

Actually, I was saying it like it's a *good* thing...only I was typing it, so you couldn't tell.

Don't stop posting your updates. I read them to keep up but can't always think of something cute/witty to say so I don't respond. That doesn't mean I didn't appreciate hearing about how you were enjoying donig some people watching at Walmart today, the latest thing your cat did to your furniture, or the funny stuff your toddler said to people on the subway.

Aww. I'm sure the OP appreciates this.

I know everyone has a bad day, but can we put a limit on the complaints? Esp. from pergnant women? There is nothing worse than hearing a person complain about every aspect of being pregnant, on Facebook, the entire time she is pregnant.

It'll be over soon. When the baby arrives, you can move onto the "complaining about midnight feedings" stage of life.

I think pregnancy complaints actually come from a place of humbleness. They're excited about the kid, they want to talk about the kid all the time, they're aware enough to know that might send people into sugar shock, they try to cover it up by complaining about the kid instead. But it doesn't always work.

"Sophia! She never gets any love."

And wasn't Estelle Getty the youngest of the four actresses?

Do you prefer to start a story with:

"Picture it: Sicily, 1922"


"Back in St. Olaf..."

Younger than everyone but Rue McClanahan, who also never gets any love. Oh, that Blanche.

"In my opinion, you have a closed mind. I recently posted about how I watched Food Inc. and how I'm changing my diet to move away from CAFO-produced meats. Sort-of political."

I think you misinterpreted my "rules." A post about a documentary, or an article or book you read, etc. is totally cool, and interesting to boot. A post that says "you are a bad Christian for supporting that secret Muslim President and btw my baby went potty today" is not cool.

Unless you can find a way to end that update with REDSKINS BRIDEZILLA.

I don't know why I'd never heard this before, but I recently heard the best noun to descrive the bra color campaign phenomenon: Slacktivism.

I like. I've also heard Faketivism, but Slacktivism is much better.

"I know everyone has a bad day, but can we put a limit on the complaints?"

When I had a neighbor constantly complaining, I blocked her status updates.

2/3 weeks later, I unblocked. She had stopped.

Maybe somebody said something. Maybe she realized she was complaining. Either way, it was a simple solution.

Clearly, I've been training my dog too much, because I read this and thought, "Oh, the ignoring technique followed by positive reinforcement. Nice."

Any way. Nice.

I had to say that or she woulda kicked my behind.

Bea Arthur, RIP.

"I think you misinterpreted my "rules." A post about a documentary, or an article or book you read, etc. is totally cool, and interesting to boot. A post that says "you are a bad Christian for supporting that secret Muslim President and btw my baby went potty today" is not cool."

And for that, I apologize. I agree on the "you are a bad Christian for supporting that secret Muslim President and btw my baby went potty today."

BTW, do you want to see a picture of each of my childrens' first potty poop?

Only if they are shaped like Muslim presidents.

Could we also please start an online campaign to cast Hugh Laurie (rather than Hugh Grant) as Professor Henry Higgins in the remake of "My Fair Lady"? I'd also like to see Anne Hathaway as Eliza, since she could do her own singing; Michael Caine (a native Cockney) as Mr. Doolittle, and Hugh Jackman as Eliza's fey suitor.

Campaign started, here and now.

And wait, there's a movie remake of My Fair Lady?

If we're going British with Michael Caine and Hugh Laurie, Eliza, I'm pulling for Carey Mulligan sted of Hathaway.

Okay, but you know what I hate? The cryptic ones. Am I supposed to ask what the post means, or feel left out that I don't get it?

Like my friend's recent status update: "I hate it when you find out it's not all that!"

What? What are you talking about? Sex? A new restaurant? The latest book? What?

My agreement with this is on the record. It always reads as attention seeking, even when it's not.

Couldn't help myself, so here it is:

YOU BE THE JUDGE (I say yes)

Whatevs, I'm still taking it as a compliment when people say I look like her. Blind people, usually, but still.

So I'm a bad FBer because I post about the milestones my daughter reaches, and how I'm always sick? I know it's not real exciting, but I want my friends to be in the loop without having to call everyone, and I want them to know I'm not ignoring them I'm just sick.

Again, it's all in how you do it (and I think we'd need samples to assess, yes?). Some sick baby status updates are engaging, but many just...aren't.

Facebook should implement a system that tells you how many of your friends are ignoring you. Maybe that would send a message.

Then again, I wouldn't want to be harrassed daily with, "ARE YOU IGNORING ME!? WHY IS EVERYONE IGNORING ME?!"

Then I remember I quit Facebook months ago so none of this even matters to me!

Oh you early un-adopter.

Perhaps the only thing more annoying than the original complaints, is the unsolicited, often medically unsound and ill-advised "helpful hints" that are sure to come in the comments.

Just posting...

That's like asking me to pick my favorite grandparent. I just love them all! I do have a soft spot for Betty White ever since she was so hilarious on the Simpsons (the one where Homer donated 10K to PBS and tried to get out of paying).

Thanks for the Simpsons reminder -- I'd forgotten about that episode.

"Like my friend's recent status update: "I hate it when you find out it's not all that!"

You then respond: "Have him try a natural male enhancement pill."

An all-purpose answer if I ever saw one.

That's all for today, guys. Thanks for stopping by, and see you next week!

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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